With the unofficial start of summer coming this weekend, you've probably already unpacked your tank tops, dug out your swimwear and bought new linen clothing to survive the heat to come. Sandals are the last piece you need to complete your warm weather looks. After hours of research and consulting a few experts, we're happy to announce that you don't have to sacrifice comfort for a stylish pair.
Whether you're all about that studio-to-streetwear look, are looking for something more classic or need orthopedist-approved shoes that are actually cute, we've got you covered. From bright colors and puffy slides to chunky platforms, here are the styles trending this season.
What sandals are trending this summer?
While classic flip-flops and functional water shoes seem to be timeless necessities for the summer, updating our shoe collections with the latest fashion trends is, let's face it, one of the most fun parts of seasons changing! We asked a few experts to share everything you need to know to nail the trends.
According to celebrity stylist Kimmie Smith, the puffy sandal trend that emerged last year (best known for its pillow-like aesthetic) is continuing strong, which is fabulous news for our feet! The fitness studio-to-streetwear aesthetic and camper-chic vibe are also very in. Luckily, this makes dressing for adventurous activities and comfort easy while still feeling fashionable.
Sunica Du, a fashion designer and illustrator, also says to be on the lookout for sustainable fashion and artisan-made items.
"The trend for sustainable and ethically-produced fashion continues to skyrocket. Biodegradable materials and cruelty-free practices are at the heart of many designers' creations." Du tells us. "Handmade and handcrafted designs are a nod to the traditional, with a modern twist. Look out for intricately woven straps and beaded details; they add a touch of class to any outfit."
How to shop for summer sandals?
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lushun Wang also provided a few tips to ensure your feet get the support they deserve, especially if you're shopping for podiatrist-approved kicks.
- Look for sandals made with supportive, cushioned footbeds to help absorb the shock when walking or running and reduce stress on feet and joints. Natural, breathable materials like leather or high-quality textiles will help avoid foot irritation while adjustable straps can help secure the foot.
- Avoid very high heels or completely flat sandals because they do not provide adequate arch support.
- Wait to try them on until later in the day when your feet are at their largest and walk around a bit to ensure that they feel comfortable and secure. Your foot shouldn't slide around and there should be a small gap between the edge of the sandal and your foot.
Smith and Du also agree that quality material, a secure and comfortable fit and straps — or in the case of slides, cushioned support — will all be helpful for all-day wear. For the folks who are devoted to a simple flat, breathable and well-crafted leather or fabric will help keep feet going strong.
Women's slide sandals
"When you truly want comfort, Sperry's Float Slide Sandal is one that's perfect for the summer and can be worn with so many outfits that you plan on wearing this season," says Smith. "These are perfect for travel as you can slip out of them easily when you're going through TSA."
These Birkenstock sandals are made from lightweight EVA, which according to Du, doesn't even break a sweat under the scorching summer sun. The buckle design and contoured footbed ensure your foot stays put so there's no slipping and sliding.
Available in black, chalk, earthy stone green or vibrant koi, these slides check off some serious boxes in the trend meets comfort department. Not only do they have the puffy aesthetic that's a wardrobe win right now, but they also provide great support with a contoured EVA footbed and lightweight midsole molded from Livelyfoam.
These Touray Sandals from designer Nay Seca have an artisanal aesthetic and are crafted with ethically sourced leather and toxic-free dyes in Gambia, West Africa. Adorned in shells and painted details, these flat slides will bring a pop of summer to every outfit.
Waterproof shoes for women
These stylish and super practical Tevas boast being 100% water-friendly and beg to be taken to the beach. The full injection-molded EVA construction ensures a lightweight feel, while the universal strapping system gives you that perfect fit whether you're on land, lake or sea.
For a bold stride, add this striking red pair to your favorite linen dress. These slides are the perfect balance of comfort and chic.
If you’re looking for a shoe with a soft, sporty look and feel that's also waterproof, this one is a great option. It's equipped with a multi-point adjustability for extreme comfort and comes in a range of cute colors that will add versatility and a summer pop to your shoe closet.
Camper's Match has lightweight velcro straps behind the heel and across the foot and toes to keep your feet well protected during any water adventure. They come in a number of colors and can be worn with denim, swimwear or your favorite leggings. With the rubber sole, you feel a bit of grip but the flat design makes them extremely packable for vacation.
"These bad boys are built for the adventurer in you with a protective toe box and a sturdy rubber sole," says Du. "Their washable polyester webbing upper makes cleaning them a breeze."
Women's heeled sandals
Available in five neutral shades and materials, these open-toed kitten heels are delicate and versatile. Ideal for formal events but low enough to be easily paired with sun dresses or linen pants, they're easy, affordable and just plain pretty.
A thin heel is timeless, but this design brings the pop-toned trend to the surface with pink and metallic green. Also available in black and white, these simplistic strappy heels will look gorgeous with wedding guest attire, baggy denim and more.
While these probably aren't the traditional Crocs you're probably used to seeing, they're perfect for when you want a little height in the summer. According to the brand, the footbed is made with their trademarked LiteFoam technology to keep you comfy all day long.
Du's insights tell us that sky-high platforms are back with a bang this year! With nearly four inches of heel, these beauties have comfortable cushioned footbed and stretchy straps to keep you walking tall from day to night.
Chunky, puffy, platformed heel — need we say more? Available in the classics (black and white), this fun design looks upscale and elegant while still being funky and fabulous. The knitted faux-leather detail is what truly distinguishes them.
The '90s called, and we couldn't be happier. Kicking off the closed-toe sandal look with one of the best looks of any millennial's childhood: "the Jelly" sandal. Being that they're 100% PVC, jellies can also be worn in water, but anyone who's worn them all day knows they may be more apt for a life of style than, say, trekking through rivers.
These strappy, leather sandals will keep your toes tucked in and chin your chin held high (because you look so good).
Dainty, delicate and elegant, these leather-lined shoes merge the breathability of a sandal with the grace of a ballet flat. Available in black, maple and sand, these will you carry you from summers at the beach and al fresco dinner dates all the way into warm fall evenings.
Not in the mood to expose your pedicure? These sandals are ideal for the office, an outdoor concert or a walk in the park. They are super convenient to match with all your summer pieces and they're even made from water-resistant leather.
Bring on a day in the sunshine with these Skechers of the same color. We like these because they're machine-washable and provide podiatrist-certified arch support.
These slip-ons from Hoka, which seems to be popping up everywhere from the running trails to Instagram feeds, provide the right fit for feet looking for added support or post-workout recovery. Plus, they hold their own weight as a fun, stylish slide.
With a biomechanically designed footbed that hugs your arches like a natural footprint, these sandals are supportive, simple and approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association. Style is still maximized as well thanks to their chic leather uppers, cool color scheme and gracefully chunky sole.
This sandal meets many of the criteria for a great orthopedic shoe — breathability, a quality leather strap with foam lining to keep the foot secure and a molded EVA footbed. Not only is it dreamily comfortable and supportive, but it's next-level trendy. Sorel masters the sport-to-streetwear look with fun color ways and a platform fit. Podiatry never looked so good!
Meet the experts
- Dr. Lushun Wang is an internationally published, award-winning, double-fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon with more than 18 years of clinical experience. He is currently the senior consultant orthopedic surgeon and medical director of Arete Orthopaedic Clinic in Singapore.
- Kimmie Smith is a celebrity fashion stylist. She also co-founded Athleisure Magazine and currently serves as its creative director.
- Sunica Du is a fashion designer and illustrator. She is the creator of an online style site, SunicaDesign.com, that specializes in Japanese and Chinese fashion history, stories and trends.